SOFA member Pollyanna Pickering is proud to announce that she has accepted the official role of Conservation Partner to the Wildlife Conservation Division of the Department of Forests and Park Services of Bhutan. Initially she is helping to support their new Tiger and Carnivore Conservation awareness project.
In the spring of 2007, Pollyanna spent five weeks trekking and camping in the remote Himalayan kingdom, one of the world’s last true wilderness environments. Bhutan jealously guards its lifestyle and ancient traditions, and the series of paintings which Pollyanna completed on her return is the first to comprehensively document the wildlife and habitat. As a result of this, she was approached by the Department of Forests and Park Services, who invited her take on this new role in supporting their conservation initiatives.
Initially her artwork – including her painting of a tiger in front of the iconic ‘Tiger’s Nest’ temple is being used on a series of posters and stickers which will be distributed widely through the kingdom to help raise awareness of the need to protect and save the endangered species which live there.
Because of the unique variety of plants and animals found within Bhutan, ecologists consider this eastern Himalayan kingdom to be an area critically important to global efforts to preserve biological diversity. The most remote of the Himalayan countries, it is the least touched by modernity. Bhutan is included in Conservation International’s list of 19 Global Hotspots for conservation of biodiversity. This ‘hotspot’ list identifies high biodiversity ecosystems under the greatest threat to destruction as well as wilderness ecosystems which remain virtually intact. Bhutan is home to 165 species of mammals, many of which are extremely threatened. Tigers can be found throughout Bhutan. Governmental conservation measures, coupled with the protected and almost inaccessible habitat provide sufficient areas to sustain viable breeding populations of several other species of cat, including the Asiatic golden cat, fishing cat, clouded leopard, and marbled cat. The snow leopard can be found in high altitude areas.
All the animals in Bhutan are protected by the Buddhist ethic which prohibits killing. As a further protection the 1995 forest and nature Conservation act defines several species as totally protected, including the Asian elephant, clouded leopard, leopard cat and red panda. Bhutan has also developed an Integrated Conservation and Development programme with assistance from the WWF to allow people living within a protected area to farm, graze animals, and collect firewood in harmony with protection management. The main threats to the environment come from poaching and logging. Many of the endangered species in Bhutan are sought after for body parts which have supposed medicinal or other valuable properties. The Department of Forests and Park Services operates an anti-poaching programme, which encompasses endangered plants animals and trees. The new Tiger and Carnivore Conservation awareness project will build on these existing programmes, and aims to get the people of Bhutan more actively concerned about protecting their unique wildlife heritage.
Pollyanna was granted a fellowship from Canada based society Artists for Conservation in support of her Bhutanese expedition. Pollyanna was the first woman ever to be granted a fellowship by the group – and the first artist to be selected from outside Canada or North America. Pollyanna acted as an ambassador for AFC throughout the journey, and carried their expedition flag. She was accompanied on the journey by her daughter and business partner Anna-Louise, an accomplished wildlife photographer. www.pollyannapickering.co.uk